A family of an Australian economist imprisoned in Myanmar is heartbroken by the three-year sentence

The wife of Australian economist Prof. Sean Turnell, who was given a three-year prison sentence by Myanmar’s military government, has asked for her husband’s release, saying that his punishment is “heartbreaking” for his family.

Ha Vu claimed that Turnell’s family had been saddened by the sentence that had been handed down after a covert trial in which he was not provided with adequate legal representation.

For me, our daughter, Sean’s 85-year-old father, and the rest of our family, she said, “It’s heartbreaking.”

Sean has devoted a lot of time to boosting Myanmar’s economy and has long been one of the country’s most ardent advocates.

According to Ha Vu, her husband has already served nearly two-thirds of his term in a prison in Myanmar.

Please deport him right away, taking into account the contributions he has made to Myanmar, she said.

Turnell, who has been imprisoned since the junta’s illegitimate takeover in February of last year, had advised the democratically elected civilian administration of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was also given a new three-year prison sentence this week.

Turnell, an economist at Macquarie University in Sydney, was arrested for the first time on February 6, 2013, less than a week after the military overthrew Myanmar’s elected government and left the nation in anarchy.

Aung San Suu Kyi and three of her former cabinet ministers are among the co-defendants who have appeared in court with Turnell during the past year. Turnell was later charged with breaking Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act.

Turnell was imprisoned by the military last year on suspicion of carrying secret documents, according to the Irrawaddy news website. Turnell allegedly refuted the accusation, claiming the documents weren’t private and instead were economic proposals he had given Aung San Suu Kyi’s administration while serving as an advisor.

In court, he entered a not-guilty plea.

Australian diplomats and media were not permitted to attend Turnell’s trial, which took place in a secret military courtroom in the nation’s capital Naypyidaw.

Australia’s foreign minister, Penny Wong, stated on Friday in Adelaide that her country “totally” rejected the accusations made against Turnell.

According to Wong, the government requested access to the court for Turnell’s sentence after learning his location and was “disappointingly and unfortunately” turned down by Myanmar’s authorities.

Australia will continue to campaign for his return to Australia through all avenues, public and private, according to Wong. “We reject fully the charges against him,” she added.

“Until he is returned to his family in Australia, we will continue to take advantage of every chance to forcefully campaign for him.”

Wong declared that she would keep the “private details” of the case a secret.

Since the beginning of the new millennium, Turnell has worked on economic and financial issues in Myanmar, emphasising the promotion of reform and growth. He has worked as a senior economic advisor to the minister of planning, finance, and industry as well as a special economic counsellor to Aung San Suu Kyi. He had previously worked for the Australian Reserve Bank.

When the UN’s special envoy to Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer, visited with the leader of the junta, General Min Aung Hlaing, last month to encourage a reduction in the level of violence there, she also brought a request from the Australian government calling for Turnell’s release.

Later, what was purported to be an account of their discussion appeared in junta-controlled media, and Min Aung Hlaing was quoted as saying: “With regard to the matter of Mr. Sean Turnell, should the Australian government take constructive moves, we will not need to take serious actions. The evidence in Mr. Sean Turnell’s case suggests that harsh sanctions may be imposed.